Beginner's Heart

I love my car. And I love the few times I’ve been able to ride in it w/ my BFF. I’ve had it for 10 years this month, and I still love it. Strangers drive up next to me and tell me they love it. (This happened just yesterday, at the intersection of 71st & Wallenberg.)

I love my husband. He’s funny, brilliant, and my dearest friend. We’ve been married longer than some of my younger friends have been around.

My two sons are damn near perfect. They’re witty, intelligent, socially responsible, and infinitely loveable. As is my amazing daughter-in-law, who not only is working on a highly complex advanced degree, but can sew, cook, and make jewelry.

My nieces are also the best gift possible. Unless you include my nephews…:) All of whom are witty, intelligent, savvy and kind.

Are you getting the picture of a wonderful, full-to-overflowing life? And I haven’t even mentioned the incredibly dedicated professionals w/ whom I work, or my bus driver, who buys me Christmas presents, or my doctor, who is funnier than you’d expect from a serious medical professional.

In other words, here are all these people, things, and activities that illuminate my life like the full moon. And what do I do too often? Feel guilty! What is up with that??

Digression that I promise is related: I once heard Lama Chokyi tell a story at a lecture about trying to define ‘guilt’ for a Tibetan lama. Apparently the Tibetans have no comparable word. As Lama Chokyi went in to more and more detail about what it was, why it happened, etc., the Tibetan monk’s eyes grew larger, until finally he threw up his hands in horror.

“Why would you do  that to yourself?” he exclaimed.


So when I feel guilty about my great good fortune, my busy, hectic, amazingly rich and varied life — friends who indulge my sense of humour, family who phone me regularly, nieces who ask me to do things with them — I repeat something the Dalai Lama wrote or said (and I haven’t found it since…):

Why would you disavow your happy life?

I hold this thought in mind like a mandala, running my thoughts over and around it. I breathe, reminding myself that not all days are good, but when they are? Enjoy them.

Until I relax, and try to just let go. And I do something the Christian writer (and closet mystic) Elizabeth Goudge use to speak of in her many novels: I offer it up. All this joy, the undeserved good fortune that surrounds me, I offer it up as a kind of deposit in the universe. Like a young woman in my class said — why is it wrong to be happy you’re blessed?

Think about it: do you disavow your happy life?

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